Leicester teenager Alex Kome is among a number of young men that have been awarded a unique foothold into the world of American football thanks to the NFL Academy.
The NFL Academy, which began operations in September 2019, is a unique programme that offers a life-changing experience to young people through American football.
It allows young athletes, aged between 15-18, to continue with full time education parallel to developing their physical and mental skills of the game.
Kome, who plays as a defensive back, had never played the game before linking up with the academy but now finds himself dominating and was the top performer in almost all drills in their most recent showcase event.
“To be honest, playing American football is something that never crossed my mind” he told BBC Sport.
“Once I started going I was pretty good but I’m somebody that believes you can be successful at whatever you put your mind to.
“I loved playing other sports so much and I was already kind of athletic, so all I really had to do was dig down and learn the intricacies of the sport. I would watch it but I never imagined myself playing it.
“That was a big drive behind my motivation (not having played) because whenever I had free time I would practice my 40-yard dash, my broad jump and my vertical jump to try and work harder than the competition.”
One of the biggest rewards for a successful journey through the academy is the chance to attend college in the USA and compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Although the prospect of the move is intimidating for such a young person, Kome can’t help but be excited at the end goal.
“It’s very daunting, especially as a young black man moving to the USA at this age, it’s very daunting to me but I feel like the excitement just can’t be hidden” he said.
“The excitement is there, having the opportunity to showcase my talents not only to the NFL academy here but somewhere in the States, it’s just amazing.
“One thing that the academy will do, there are many skills from American football that I’ve realised are transferable to the outside world.
“I hope to take these skills and implement them in every aspect of life whether that be going to US college or UK university or gaining a scholarship but I feel like with hard work I can really do anything I put my mind to, so that’s definitely the route I’m trying to take.”
Having achieved so much in such a short period of time, the Leicester based cornerback has urged any young person who has even thought about playing American football to give it a go and has offered his advice to the prospective new recruits.
“I’d say more than anything to come prepared,” said Kome.
“It won’t be easy but it will be worth it because at the end of the day, you never know what’s going to happen.
“I never would have thought that I would be doing so well in the academy if you asked me a few years back or even a year ago so really anything can happen. Come prepared, give it your all and anything can happen.”
The NFL Academy is currently looking for their next crop of students and are asking for those interested to send in their virtual tryouts to them by no later than Sunday 19th July.